We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.
When she was eight Tash Carmody witnessed her secret friend Sparrow abduct a child, Mallory Fisher. But nobody believed Tash, because no one else had ever met Sparrow and, over the years since, Tash has come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real and that some trauma caused her to create her version of events. Mallory has been mute since the week that she went missing, and, after years of counselling and being sheltered by her increasingly frustrated mother, Tash is determined to put events behind her. But Mallory and her family are back in town and old memories are resurfacing. Tash becomes increasingly isolated from her few friends as she starts to wonder if Sparrow really does exist – or whether she herself is the dangerous one.
Small Spaces is a gripping psychological thriller for young adult readers. The mystery of what happened to Tash, and Tash’s involvement, will keep readers guessing. Tash’s first person narration is interspersed with scripts of recordings of her counselling sessions over the intervening years, allowing readers insight into Tash’s version of events at the time, and what has happened in the intervening years.
Creepy, gripping and unputdownable.
Small Spaces, by Sarah Epstein
Walker Books, 2018
Today has been the most important day of my life. I still don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
This is how it all began…
Lucy wants nothing more than to to work in the printing industry, like her father, but because she’s a girl, her dream seems unattainable. When an opportunity arises to work in Louisa Lawson’s Printery, she is delighted. She’ll be working in the office, but she hopes that, one day, she might be promoted. In the meantime, she loves working in the printery, where all the staff are female except for the owner’s son, the young poet Henry Lawson.
Lucy’s Dawn is the diary format story of a fictional girl set amidst the historical lives of Henry Lawson and his mother, and events in Sydney in 1889, particularly those surrounding the printer’s union and the rights of women to work in the printing industry.
Giving an insight into the lives and rights of women, and daily lives in Australia prior to Federation, the story will be of interest to young history enthusiasts.
Lucy’s Dawn , by Juliet Blair
NLA Publishing, 2018
Deep in the forest where sundrops spill
a bird sends seeds to the floor.
Over the seas, a bird drops a seeds which sprouts and, slowly, grows into a tree. When that tree is felled it becomes, in turn, part of a ship bearing convicts, then a frame for a weaving loom and, eventually, part of a lean-to. When the lean-to is abandoned the wood lies dormant until a crafter finds it and from it carves a wooden bird.
This beautiful story shows the journey of one tree, with the use of the bird at the beginning and end drawing an elegant circle which even young children will connect with. The repurposing of the wood from convict bunk to loom to building material to carving material connects history with the growing contemporary re-awakening of the importance of recycling and upcycling.
The poetic text is simple, and a delight to read aloud, and Harris’s illustrations make stunning use of light and perspective.
A delight for a home library as well as a useful classroom read.
Bird to Bird, by Claire Saxby & Wayne Harris
Black Dog, 2018
west coast of Ireland, 1830.
Bitter tears were shed and a ring was thrown.
In an act of sorrow, a woman throws away a poesy ring. Inscribed with the words ‘Love never dies’, the ring lies first in a field then, under an oak tree which grows nearby, before being caught in the hoof a deer which stops to eat acorns. From there the ring begins a journey which sees it eventually at the bottom of the ocean where it is swallowed by a fish and so, almost two centuries after it was thrown, finally finds its way back to human hands. Purchased by young lovers from a gold trader, the ring is finally placed once again on a young woman’s finger.
There is so much to ponder on and love in this book. The fascinating journey of the ring, the idea of love travelling and being passed on, the mystery of the woman who threw the ring, and her story, will leave readers pondering and even discussing for quite some time. The illustrations, with Bob Graham’s special blend of realism and whimsy, will also delight and inspire further examination.
A treasure of a book about a unique treasure.
The Poesy Ring, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2018
‘Don’t worry,’ says Grandad.
‘The sandcastle is still here;
you just can’t see it.’
Rae wants to build a magnificent sandacste, and when Grandad offers to help they do indeed build a very fine castle. But when the tide starts to come in, Rae watches as, bit by bit, the magnificent castle is washed away. Grandad, though, explains that the castle isn’t really gone, because everything that made it is still there.
Sandcastle is a beuatiful exploration of the ebb and flow of life, and of the gentle bond between grandparent and grandchild. Whil Grandad’s wisdom is deep, so too is Rae’s willingness to accept that wisdom.
The deceptively simple illustrations use sandy tones as well as blues with embellishments of red and yellow. The focus is squarely on Rae and Grandad as they enjoy time together, seemingly the only two at the beach – with the exception of a gorgeous orange crab. Another lovely touch is the absence of any gendered pronouns for Rae, something which is difficult to achieve but doesn’t seem forced in this text.
A beautiful book.
Sandcastle, by Philip Bunting
Allen & Unwin, 2018
For an instant as he approached the counter, there was a warm, tingly flare erupting somewhere in her core. She told her friends – she even told herself – that all she wanted to do was reach out and help this guy. She didn’t exactly know how she was going to go about it but he needed to be around people again.
When his wife died in a tragic accident, Nick Langtree became a recluse, living alone in a caravan on his farm, punishing himself for Sophie’s death. But it’s been six years and his friends think it’s time he forgave himself and allowed himself some happiness. Tash Duroz, in particular, wants to reach out to him. But deep down she knows she’s kidding herself that she just wants to be friends with Nick. What she feels is something else.
Nick is hardly aware of Tash, though he appreciates her friendliness when she serves him at the bakery. he is, though, willing to start getting his life back on track. If only strange things didn’t keep happening around the farm. It’s almost as if Sophie is haunting him – but maybe there is someone who has a grudge against him.
White Gum Creek is a story about dealing with heartache and grief and forging new beginnings, as well as friendship and self-forgiveness. With an element of mystery to keep the story moving forward, it is a satisfying, engaging read.
White Gum Creek, by Nicole Hurley-Moore
Allen & Unwin, 2018